A Prayer Inviting the Spirit to Move

life unstuck intro

Well friends, we made it. There were times when I didn’t think we would, but here we are at the end of our 31 day journey. I want to thank each of you who have offered words of encouragement and love during this challenge. It is because of you that I continue to write, to offer up words, and press forward. You bless me more than you know.

Today I’d like to offer up a final prayer for the Spirit to continue working in your lives in the months ahead. During the Allume conference two weeks ago, the final keynote speaker stated she believed one of the reasons the church has not continued to thrive here in the U.S. is because the Holy Spirit is either given a bad name or not explored at all. I couldn’t agree more.

But without the Spirit, this journey is pointless. Without this integral part of the Trinity, our hope is lost.


Holy Spirit, we know we can’t become unstuck without your work in us. Help us to recognize your still, small voice when it nudges us to move and asks us to stay. May we recognize the things that grieve you and leave these strongholds at the foot of the cross, so we can grow to be more like the One who gave up his live so we could be free. Mold us and transform us into the beautiful masterpieces we were created to be. Complete the work you started in us in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

When the Darkness Becomes Comfortable

life unstuck intro

I once heard a friend say she liked to keep her house dimly lit because it hid all the dirt in her house.

We were chatting with other moms and made jokes about how darkness was good for so many things, like hiding the mess we didn’t feel like cleaning for the hundredth time. And the dog would surely clean up those crumbs on the floor, right?

Sometimes the darkness can become comfortable.

We hide in its bleakness and feel like it protects us from the judgmental stares of others who have their check-lists done, their floors clean, their kids in line. Often we hang out there in the dark so long we forget the path back into the light. Or we think the light won’t welcome us after such a long absence.

It goes so much further than spotless homes doesn’t it? When darkness compromises our souls, it can take on many forms: jealousy, greed, hypocrisy, and judgmental attitudes, just to name a few.

We want to sweep it under the façade of fake smiles and perfect church attendance and pretend it isn’t there. But the more we put on an act, the more the unconfessed offense weakens us and keeps us from moving forward.

I know because I’ve been there. I walked in the dark and convinced myself if no one knew about it, it wasn’t harming anyone. But the person it was harming most was me.

Several months ago, some of my friends developed a rule. Not a punish-you-if-you-don’t, ruler-smacking directive but a guideline, if you will.

Confess your wrong. Bring it out into the open and talk to your sisters in Christ about it. Together, we can speak truth and build each other up.

glorious light

Let me tell you, it hasn’t always been easy. There are days when my fears slink in and whisper lies, telling me I’ll be judged if I bring that out into the open. But the more I push through and continue to share, the more I see our fears are often liars.

And do you know what I’ve found? God’s perfect Light casts out darkness. It uncovers truth, and friends, the truth brings freedom.

This is not some church cliché or platitude. It is the lifeblood of the church.

So friends, let us heed the words of Paul.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of the darkness and put on the armor of light.

Romans 13:12 NIV

Let’s come into his glorious light today. Let’s expose the strongholds that keep us captive and walk in the freedom we were born to realize.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

When You Feel Like You’re Missing the Party

life unstuck intro

I could not stop looking at the other table.

I tried to focus on my eating my meal and made eye contact with the women around me. We talked about our writing experience, what drew us to the conference and our hometowns. But every few minutes, my eyes would drift back to the table parked directly in front of the stage.

Filled with authors, speakers and book contracts, I was certain this circle was the place to be.

What were they talking about? What was the source of their laughter?

A seat there would make me content, wouldn’t it? My mind filled with images like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, convinced there was a golden ticket just out of my grasp and I had to get my hands on it. Wonders beyond my wildest imagination waited behind closed doors.

My mind was so preoccupied with crazy assumptions that I almost missed the woman sitting across the table from me.

Will you continue reading with me? I’m sharing the rest of the story over at PurposefulFaith.com today. Click here to join us.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

It Is for Freedom {A Guest Post}

life unstuck intro

When I first read Tiffany’s writing, I knew nothing about her except that she captivated me with her ability to weave a story and string together words. Since I reached out and commented on her blog, she’s become a dear friend and encourager and I thank God we crossed paths in the blogosphere. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome today as we talk about how sometimes the familiar can become what enslaves us and keeps us stuck.

Tiffany headshot - blog1

Tiffany is a wife and mom who dwells in the sunshine (and smog) of Southern California. She’s a lover of words who purposes to use hers to speak God’s truth with grace and authenticity. More than that, she longs to provide a safe place for others to do the same. You are invited to join her word-by-word journey through the mountains and valleys of faith at her blog, Simply for One, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

It Is for Freedom

I heard the story of a man who, after thirty-five years in prison, was finally released. For decades his every move had been bound by law, and finally he was free to explore life. But after thirty-five years of rigid routine and structure, he struggled to adjust to his new found freedom. In desperation, craving the familiar confines of his former limitations, he robbed a local mini-mart. When police arrived, he surrendered to them and shortly thereafter was returned to prison.

He willingly gave up his freedom to return to what he once knew. Unbelievable.

And then it occurred to me: I do the same thing every day.

As a believer, my freedom has been purchased with great cost, my ransom paid in full. I’ve been redeemed from the bondage of sin by the blood of Christ. But my shackles are never further than my own back pocket.

And all too often, I pull them out, slip them on, and chain myself to burdens that aren’t mine to bear.

When I allow doubt to diminish the calling God has set before me.

When fear robs me of opportunity to exercise faith.

When comparison steals the identity that God has written over me.

When the pursuit of perfection and approval of man take precedent over God.

It’s like I walk right back into a prison cell and slam the door shut behind me. It’s as if I take Christ’s freedom gift and hand it back to Him unopened.

When I willingly set aside liberty to entertain slavery, it’s the equivalent of saying Christ’s life wasn’t worth my freedom.

freedom1

For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 ESV

Christ HAS set us free. It isn’t a future promise. It’s not a condition we have to meet. Freedom isn’t offered to us once we complete a list of required tasks, or prove ourselves worthy. We don’t have to wrestle to receive it. Our freedom is a complete work.

Christ has set us free, and so … WE. ARE. FREE.

Stand firm therefore. Our frame is fragile, weak even. We so easily relinquish the freedom in God’s fought for promises to embrace satan’s slippery lies. And God knows how easily we fall prey. It’s why He tells us to come to Him when we’re weary, to seek Him when we need rest.

His yoke is STILL easy. His burden is STILL light. 

Jesus doesn’t want us to live in chains. He wants us to experience the freedom of forgiveness, the grace of an unburdened walk beside Him, and the gentle touch of His guiding hand. But He also wants us to fight for what is ours. To stand fast in faith. To lock our knees, dig in our heels, and refuse to give up that which He gave His own life to obtain for us.

Christ has set us free, so that we will LIVE free.

We can’t settle for less. The fullness of freedom was purchased for us on a cross. Abundance of life was bought at a price we can never repay. A life lived in shackles is not a life lived for Christ.

Christ has set us free. And whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

Freedom in Knowing the Truth

life unstuck intro

Music stirs something deep within me. The beautiful worship leaders at Allume played the song “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music a couple of times at the conference last weekend and I and the more I sang the declaration over and over, the more I realized it was true.

“I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.” 

Such a simple statement, yet it brought me to tears knowing the weight of it. The kingdom of darkness has no dominion over me any more. I can walk in the freedom because I’ve been sealed with the redemptive blood of my Savior.

Jesus Christ chose me, sealed me and delivered me.

Thank you, oh God. Thank you for finding me when I didn’t even know I needed to be found.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

A Prayer for Authenticity

life unstuck intro

We are down to the home stretch, folks. I have to admit, I am getting tired. But I thank each and every one of you who have showed my and encouraged me on this 31 day journey. You bless me more than you know. Today, as I have each Saturday, I am offering up a prayer. I hope you are encouraged to come before God with your own struggles, praises and regrets and draw into a closer relationship with him.


Lord, it can be so easy to keep our relationships with others at surface level. Our fears and insecurities prevent us from entering into those hard conversations and we go around masquerading fake smiles and endless pretenses of, “I’m fine.” But God, you know our thoughts before we even think them. You know all the hurt, the aches we can’t identify and the longings for what’s real. You go there, Lord, and you beckon us to come with you into the beautiful deep. God, help us to go there with you. Because when all the pretense melts away and we enter into that safe place, what we find is everything true, lovely, and worth pursuing.

In Jesus’ mighty name, 

Amen.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this challenge here.

From Fake Fine-ness to Hard Truth

life unstuck intro

I didn’t even know he was sick.

My three-year-old chased his older brother around and they wrestled as they do every hour of every day. He asked me for snacks on the half hour and played trains on the wood table.

Based on outward appearances, he appeared healthy.

At around 5 o’ clock I noticed his color seemed off and placed my hand against his forehead. It was burning up.

My boy was not okay. His body was fighting sickness, working overtime to ward off the illness overtaking it. I gave him an antibiotic and within minutes, he succumbed to exhaustion and curled up on the couch, letting me play with his hair while he watched his favorite show.

Though a space of decades separated us and we displayed our stubbornness in different ways, I knew in that moment we were the same.

My son who surprises people with his blonde hair and blue eyes, who has a fire in his belly that makes me gasp at times, is like his mama in ways I don’t often predict. Then one day when I’m consumed with business and kids’ activities I feel this slow ache from deep within and my immediate reaction is to ignore it.

My first response is to pretend it isn’t there, to continue on with my day and hope it will go away. Because that’s what a wife and mother to two beautiful kids does, right? She presses through. She takes care of her own.

But the ache won’t go away and soon it consumes. It affects my sleep and my ability to carry out everyday tasks. It must come out in some shape or form, but instead of acknowledging it I transfer to others in the form of cutting remarks or distance.

Unaddressed pain will always rise to the surface.

When We Ignore Our Pain

No amount of activity is an antidote for a soul-deep ache. We can add layers of schedules and small talk to the pain, but until we choose to see it, we are simply adding callous to injury.

Soul cleansing takes hard conversations. It takes coming before God with the truth. Trust me, he can handle it. It means asking questions that go beyond the surface and get to the heart of the matter. And the healing doesn’t happen overnight.

But until we have those conversations and ask the questions, we will be like my son. Running on fumes and exhausted from the presence of fine-ness.

The world needs less fine-ness and more truth.

And until we’re willing to see that, I’m not sure we’ll ever know what true freedom in Christ looks like. Let’s commit to getting our boots unstuck from the facade of perfection and false security of packed schedules and have some real conversations today.

Let’s put aside our superhero capes and invite healing to begin.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all post for this series here.

When Comparison Threatens to Steal My Community {A Guest Post}

life unstuck intro

I immediately recognized my friend Kristine Brown when I attended She Speaks in July, 2014 and she welcomed me with a warm hug. She has become a continual source of encouragement to me on this writing journey, and I pray I bless her as much as she’s blessed me over the past year and a half. What I love about Kristine’s writing is her willingness to address tough topics like comparison and insecurity and share her experiences with vulnerability and strength. Please give her a warm welcome as we continue our journey to becoming unstuck.

Kristine bio pic

Kristine is a writer, dramatist, and teacher. She desires to support women in their spiritual lives with practical teaching for real-life struggles. Kristine devotes her time to her family, freelance writing, and her non-profit ministry, More Than Yourself, Inc. You can read more from Kristine at www.morethanyourself.com.

When Comparison Threatens to Steal My Community

I sat there at this familiar event – one I’d attended many times during the past ten years of living in our tight-knit community. In small town Texas, everyone comes to support the team, like one big family. But in the midst of the festivities – the laughter and the cheers – I silently watched. I saw friends gathering together, parents hugging children, neighbors joking and yes, taking selfies. Suddenly I felt alone. Disconnected. Like everyone in the community was a part of the community, except me.

I remembered the feeling; it was somehow familiar. I’d felt the same way when we first moved to this new place ten years ago. Like an outsider, like everyone had something I wanted – connection. So why after ten years would these feelings of loneliness come flooding back to my mind? Why after loving, serving, and building relationships here would this feeling of emptiness overwhelm me?

Because the enemy wants me to be discontent with me.

“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.” Galatians 6:4 NIV

Beneath these emotions are the underlying struggles I don’t like to talk about. Talking about them would be admitting my weakness, exposing my sin. Because that’s what these struggles are – a battle with myself. Pride. Jealousy. Comparison.

Thankfully, when I unmask my challenges, God’s peace overflows from my heart. When I share my struggles, I find contentment like I’ve never known.

kristine graphic

In his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul encouraged his fellow believers not to fall into the trap of comparison, but instead to “test their own actions.” In other words, we need to do everything for the right reasons. Not out of jealousy or because we are trying to measure up to someone else. Our actions should flow out of the love we have for our Savior. His sacrificial love for us is more than enough.

We find true contentment in our relationship with Jesus.

The verse above offers hope to those of us who feel stuck living up to an ideal we’ve created in our minds. This verse brought comfort to me on that day and reminded me of God’s glorious promise.

And in true God-fashion, as soon as I claimed His words over my negative thoughts, he affirmed it in my heart. A sweet lady I met when we first moved to town so many years ago made her way to the empty seat beside me. We chatted. We reminisced. We talked about our families.

God taught me once again to claim contentment and let go of comparison.


Kristine put together a power-packed list of scriptures that help her when comparison threatens to overtake her thoughts. She’d love to share it with you. This link will take you over to More Than Yourself, where you can receive your free printable, 21 Scriptures for Overpowering Comparison.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

When You Need Affirmation

life unstuck intro

“There are things he wants to tell me.”

My voice was soft, almost a whisper to my roommates after a frightening knock and complaint from the hotel security guard. We spoke in hushed tones, sharing the truths God revealed to us over a weekend blogging conference in the heart of downtown Greenville, SC.

I looked around at these women I’d grown to love even more in a few short days. As we told stories and truths revealed, I was amazed how God gave each of us the exact message we needed our current season of life.

“There are things he want to tell me, but I have to slow down to listen.”

I looked up at my roommates. They nodded and murmured affirmation. Yes, finding those moments would have to be an intentional act, not an accident.

Oh, I spent time with God. In the spaces between preschool and playtime, during the occasional nap and after the drop off at the bus stop. Whenever I could, I snuck in moments. I read the Word. I prayed while making sandwiches. But I wanted more.

I longed to kneel at the feet of his throne and feel peace. Peace beyond a good night’s sleep or the perfect strength coffee.

And God wanted more from me. Not as a righteous requirement or a legal demand, but because he loved me.

He loves me- then, now and for the vast space of eternity spreading out before me.

In my limitless search for validation in writing, relationships and service, God is validating me this very moment. As I sit here typing these words, hoping they will reach some weary soul who is yearning for approval, God is saying, “This is my daughter.”

When I sit with him in the quiet, my heart knows. Even though my mind may wander and my body struggle against the stillness, it’s on those seconds of unrushed worship that I experience the peace I long for.

So why do I fight it? Why do we negate the one relationship that makes us whole? It’s difficult for us to comprehend the invisible, isn’t it?

And that which we can’t understand we often dismiss. But our unseen God can’t be contained or explained away.

when you long for affirmation

Our world applauds the material, but eternal validation comes from the invisible.

When we get stuck in the chase for worldly affirmation, we miss the most fulfilling affirmation of all. It comes from above and within.

The more time I spend with Him, the more he fills me with declarations of his love. It can’t be boiled down to a simple pat on the back or a “well done,” but he’s whispering it to us day after day, when we pause and take time to listen.

Will you sit a while and hear his voice? He’s speaking to you. He’s waiting to tell you deep and wonderful things you don’t know or comprehend.

He’s waiting to affirm you as his daughter.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

*Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth

How Do You Handle Hard Conversations? {A Guest Post}

life unstuck intro

Today we are continuing our 31 Day series by welcoming my beautiful friend, Kristi Woods, to the blog. I felt an immediate connection to Kristi’s writing when I discovered we shared the same struggles with the gypsy life. We’ve both moved all over the country, and encourage each other in our strides to build community and fight loneliness. She is a true gem and even though we’ve never met in “real” life, I hope one day that will change. Please welcome her today as she shares about a vulnerable experience with conflict.

Woods Family_0154

Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker passionate about seeing women walk deeper with God. She clicks her words of encouragement at http://www.KristiWoods.net regularly and is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions as well as on various blogs. Kristi, her retired-from-the-military husband, and their three children survived a nomadic lifestyle and have now set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

How Do You Handle Hard Conversations?

She exploded. The harsh words hammered at me.

The upset mama’s child was hurt. Mine, she insisted, was the cause.

Fiery darts were flying. My mama bear itched to roar.

I faced a choice. How was I going to react to the uncomfortable discourse?

Turn her off, run away?

Suffer in silence or rupture in anger?

Bellow with blame or let resentment reign?

I tried many of them in past situations. However, efforts of “my will” seemed only to result in a worse scenario.

Fruit isn’t borne in the land of our personal will. Maturity doesn’t mount on those plains. No, spiritual fruit flourishes when we utter and trust, “Thy will”, when we make a choice to react with righteousness, not emotions.

It’s not easy, offering “our will” at the cross, opening ourselves to change. But it’s necessary to grow in the Lord.

I survived the difficult conversation that day with God’s peace which certainly passed understanding. There were a few, self-induced bumps in the road later, a few tears too, but I’ll celebrate all day long God’s faithfulness in the midst of the conversation.

Here are three truths to remember for righteous responses:

1. Trust Trumps

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Prov. 3:5-6 NKJV

Our words are an offering opportunity. Syllables uttered with trust, set at the foot of the cross, are sweet smelling. They’re a beautiful aroma to our God. Trust in God trumps darkness any day.

Keep calm, Kristi. Keep calm. Just listen.

The internal dialogue kept me on the narrow way during the hard conversation. My own selfish will wanted to roar, to react. Truth consoled and took my hand.

Controlling others isn’t an option, but controlling “us” is. It’s all in Who we trust.

Abby McDonald guest post

2. Created in God’s Image

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12 NLT

Enemy! The tag is easy to give when fiery words fly. On the other side of those words, however, lives a person created by the same God as us. Created in His image, there’s an eternal plan for them, too.

The one hurling hurtful words is not our enemy. Darkness is.

 

3. Give Space for Grace

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 NLT

One thing is certain: We all sin.

There have been times when I was that emotional mama. Self-control flew out the window, trust too. A bigger issue often roars behind the scene, a lie birthing the sinful reaction. It’s much easier to give space for grace when we remember the battle.

In God’s faithfulness, He brings victory every time we trust Him with our hard conversations. He’s so good!

The encounter may still be messy. (Mine was.) Problems might not be resolved immediately. (The earlier mentioned one still isn’t.) But His peace will prevail. (It did… within me.) It might be a subtle, internal change, undetectable to many, but it’s a huge heart victory. It’s available to all of us when we simply trust, responding with God when handling hard conversations.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.